It came as a surprise to many Barlaston bus users when Baker’s announced in August that the well-used X1 service was to be suddenly reduced to a very limited timetable.
It emerged that Staffordshire University had pulled out their funding because the move of their engineering students to Stoke meant fewer of their students were making the trip from Stoke to the Stafford campus.
The X1 also serves as the bus replacement service for Barlaston and Wedgwood stations for which London Midland provide the funding, but the new timetable provides no more than that.
Baker’s bus connects Hanley, Stoke Station, Wedgwood, Barlaston and Stone town centre, but does not continue to Stafford. The X1 now runs every two hours instead of once an hour, and doesn’t actually connect with trains at Stone. You would have to walk to the station. Passengers will have noticed that the buses are smaller too! Local politicians have raised the issue but Baker’s say they can’t afford to run a fuller service.
However, the North Staffs Rail Promotion Group think that this may persuade London Midland to return a train service to Barlaston. Their Trent Valley service (Crewe to London Euston) passes through once an hour and is well used at Stone.
Group Chair Jon Heal says that the current timetable allows time for a stop at Barlaston but it requires local people to make their voice heard.
“I have spoken to London Midland recently and they have looked again at this, especially because the bus service is no longer seen as useful,” he told the Gazette. “In fact the question for them is whether Barlaston is a possible stop or whether the Wedgwood station up the line would be preferable.”
NSRPG hope that people would contact local politicians if they want a train service back, or contact London Midland about which station they want reopened.